Elon Musk`s SpaceX launched a Falcon 9 rocket from California on Monday carrying 64 small satellites into low orbit around the Earth, which the company called the largest-ever “rideshare” mission by a US-based rocket.
The mission, dubbed SSO-A, also marked the third voyage to space for the same Falcon 9 rocket – another milestone for SpaceX`s cost-cutting reusable rocket technology.
The Falcon 9 blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 10:34 a.m. local time (18:34 GMT) carrying satellites from 34 different companies, government agencies, and universities, including the University of Illinois.
After the launch, the Falcon 9`s first-stage booster returned to earth as planned, landing on a ship off the coast of southern California, according to a live video of the flight.
However, the Falcon 9`s payload fairing – an enclosure that protected the satellites during launch – missed a landing net on the barge and ended up in the ocean.
“Falcon fairing halves missed the net, but touched down softly in the water,” Musk, SpaceX`s chief executive officer, said on Twitter. He said the boat was moving to pick them up.
“Plan is to dry them out & launch again. Nothing wrong with a little swim,” Musk, who is also the CEO of Tesla Inc , said on Twitter.